At the moment of doubt, worlds open up, and each fresh report from those strange worlds leads to further doubt. This has been the century of the invention of the personal and collective unconscious, of anthropology, palaeontology, of science fiction and scientific cosmological speculation: the creation of thousands of other worlds, terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, apparent to the eye of a traveller or beyond the reach of the telescope, buried in the earth, hidden within an unsuspecting mind. ( . . . ) in the century of uncertainty, of mass man and the bombardment of images, one can see the world in a grain of sand only if one simultaneously sees the thousands of undressed oiled bodies baking on the beach, the web of their social interactions, the raw sewage pumped into the sea and the contaminated lives of the marine animals, the kiosks with their pink bunnies and rubber ducks, the thumping transistors and careening Frisbees, the bumper-to-bumper traffic snaking along the coast. A macrocosm without the microcosm.
— Eliot Weinberger, The Spider and the Caterpillar (1985)
In William S. Burroughs novel The Wild Boys (1972) feral boys roam what is left of a devastated earthly landscape, murdering, raping and pillaging. Leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. For Burroughs this was probably the ultimate erotic fantasy, youth running amok, destroying the past and creating an uncertain future as they go along, the goddess Kali on a hover-board. The cover of my pocket copy features the airbrush-painted ass of one of the Wild Boys covered in rainbow Speedos with trickles of blood going down his thighs. However, as with Naked Lunch I didn’t enjoy the book at all, no matter how much I wanted to, it was more a chore than a pleasure to get through. But somehow the image of the Wild Boys is an exciting, if terrifying one; A sub-human torrent of self-indulgence, the id running amok, or to quote the earlier Weinberger text “raw sewage pumped into the sea”. What would wash up on shore after the wreck? What artifacts would be left next to the bodies of their victims? Imagine the morning after, would there be an inspector Morse or Barnaby arriving at the crime scene? A CSI forensic team in blue overalls and rubber gloves, marking the evidence with tiny yellow tents, mapping out the unconscious of the mindless. Surveying each millimeter of this strange new world of pink bunnies, Frisbees, instant noodles, plastic cutlery, rubber sandals, empty cigarette packages, doubt and uncertainty. A scene from dystopian krimi where everyone's a suspect.